- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

To this day, 35 years after the fact, Richard Cardinale can recall those wonderful long ago days in Johnston, R.I., when he and the girl next door would miss the school bus to Windsor Hill Elementary School.
That's when the girl's mother would ferry them both to school in the family Mercury with the "Breezeway" rear window. Life doesn't get much better than that.
Countless school buses have taken countless students to school since then. However, Mr. Cardinale, now a lawyer for the Department of the Interior, has never forgotten that big Mercury with the rear window that actually rolled down.
About 1998 he decided to fulfill his dream and get one of those "Breezeway" Mercurys. He decided that only a top-of-the-line model would do and the mileage had to be ridiculously low.
The 18-month search took him throughout the country. One of the last Mercurys he examined was in Milwaukee. It was such a disappointment that he returned home to Arlington dejected and about ready to abandon the hunt.
He should have listened to the advice offered by Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz" because he found happiness in his own back yard.
Within days after returning from Milwaukee Mr. Cardinale found a 1965 Mercury Park Lane for sale in nearby Bethesda. He came, he saw and he was conquered by the sheer size and beauty of the car. He bought it the first day he saw it in August 2000.
"I'm either the fourth or fifth owner," Mr. Cardinale said. He said the 3,968-pound Mercury was built on Oct. 27, 1964, one of the first 1965 models.
A Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kuefner bought the new car in Des Moines, Iowa. It carried a base price of $3,369 and was one of 8,335 such models manufactured.
The new Mercury, looking longer than its actual 18-foot length, rolled out the showroom on 8.15x15-inch B.F. Goodrich Silvertown white sidewall tires.
Through all those owners, the mileage was kept in check. Even now the odometer reads less than 12,800 miles. The Mercury had been driven only 11,680 miles when Mr. Cardinale bought it almost a year ago.
"When it turns 13,000 miles I'm going to light a candle," Mr. Cardinale said.
The highlight of the car is the Breezeway rear window. The window and the two sidelights are all framed by chrome. "There's chrome everywhere," Mr. Cardinale said.
The two backup lights are incorporated in the bumper. Below the bumper the dual exhaust tips protrude.
Above the rear bumper, the enormous trunk is exposed when the equally huge lid is raised. The trunk has a tier above the rear axle where the spare tire is stashed out of the way.
For a top-of-the-line car, Mr. Cardinale said, his car is rather spartan. It is not equipped with a number of common accessories, but it does have the most expensive option air conditioning.
Since buying the car he has acquired a salesman's book with paint chips of all the colors available in 1965. "You know," he said, "I think I would have ordered the same ocean turquoise it is."
The big car is equipped with accessories including:
AM radio.
Power steering.
Remote-control mirror.
Additionally, he points out, on the door panels, "There is an abundance of wood-grain trim."
When either of the front doors is opened two lights in the doors are illuminated a red one aimed to alert following traffic a door was open and a white one to highlight the ground beneath the door. "They did a great job of styling it," Mr. Cardinale said.
Since acquiring the car he has only had to change the fluids, belts and most of the hoses.
The car still has the original wiring, points, plugs and distributor, he said.
Additionally, the interior is all original, from the headliner down to the carpeting, including the handsome brocade seat covering in between.
Courtesy lights are plentiful in the Mercury. They can be found under the hood, back in the trunk, in the glove box, at the base of the roof pillars on either side of the rear seat and, of course, the dome light is there to illuminate the teal interior.
Not that he has any intention of driving in the rain, but Mr. Cardinale is pleased his car is equipped with two-speed wipers with an intermittent feature.
The king-size Mercury rides on a 123-inch wheelbase, which would almost classify it as a limousine in today's market.
Beneath the flight-deck-sized engine hood is a Super Marauder 390-cubic-inch V-8 engine fed by a four-barrel carburetor from a 21-gallon gas tank.
While Mr. Cardinale is pleased that the engine produces 300 horsepower, he is aware it also delivers city mileage of about 10 miles per gallon.
Sliding behind the two-spoke translucent steering wheel on his chrome-bedecked "Breezeway" Mercury from bygone days, Mr. Cardinale happily said, "They suspended all the rules in those days."

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